Well I’m fresh out of viewing The Muppets so this is going to be a glowing review. I haven’t had to much time to try and say anything negative, though I don’t think I need to.
The Muppets is about how the Muppets have been forgotten. That over the years their popularity has decreased and that times have changed. That we wouldn’t appreciate them now even if they did put on a performance.
The movie is a love song to the Muppets. There’s a lot of blowing smoke up their own buts it you want to twist things to a negative view. The fact is that the Muppets were a huge phenomenon and while younger generations may not be familiar with them, there are still young people and older audiences that love them.
In a way the new movie is similar to the orignal Muppet Movie, but not really. Out of all of the films, that’s the best comparison. In fact they reference the orignal film frequently to compare themselves to it. The orignal movie was sort of about the Muppets meting for the first time and the new movie is the Muppets meeting each other for the first time in years. It really is a sequel of sorts to the orignal film.
The original Muppet Movie however was very much a road movie and was very lighthearted. This film is actually quite different when you look at it. There’s a lot more exploration of the characters, or at least some of the main ones. The movie explores their dynamic and to an extent looks at why the Muppets were so great. There are a number of moments that are just horribly unfunny, because they’re sad. They are very good emotionally charged scenes.
The music of course was really good. They don’t hold up to the orignal songs, but I think that has more to do with time. “Life is a Happy Song” is actually really good and catchy. I think the movie needs more than one viewing for them to become as memorable as some of the older ones, but they are still pretty solid. Actually Chris Cooper does a pretty good rap at one point. The only two full old songs to make appearances are the Muppet Show theme and of course Rainbow Connection. There are some references and extracted lyrics from older songs, but they aren’t performed. There’s also a great cover of Nirvana.
The Muppets were all great. You have different puppeteers now that some of the originals have died or moved on, but honestly I thought they did a great job. The only issue I had was with the guy who does Staldorf’s (I think) voice. The voices for that duo were very iconic for me and the new voice just doesn’t match the original. As far as the new Muppet Walter goes, I thought he was ok. Nothing spectacular, but good for the movie. He actually isn’t really the main character. He’s more of a catalyst to get the movie going, which was nice.
Jason Segel, who incidentally is the reason this movie exists, did a good job as Walter’s brother. Amy Adams was really good as well. For the roles they were cast in they were pretty damned good. As was Rashida Jones as the TV exec. OF course the movie has to have a human villain which is where Chris Cooper comes in and he was great. Again he does a neat little rap at one point. Really the human cast was great.
The cameos. The Muppets are famous for their cameos. I’m almost disappointed in the cameos in this movie, but maybe that has something to do with my fondness for the cameos in the other films. At this point these may be spoilers for you. I’m going to list some of the cameos, mainly the ones I enjoyed, so you’ve been warned. Alan Arkin, Jack Black, Bill Cobbs, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, John Krasinski, Jim Parsons, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey Rooney, Sarah Silverman, Ken Jeong, Kristen Schaal, and Emily Blunt. There are more, but those are the ones that I remember and stood out to me.
My biggest disappointment was the lack of Steve Martin. For some reason I just thought he’d make an appearance. He’s worked with the Muppets a number of times and I always loved his appearances. They did at least reference him a number of times by name or via a picture of him. I’m also glad that they paid tribute to Jim Henson frequently. His name is branded various places as is his picture. It was nice that they did that.
The Muppets is different. The tone has changed. Yes the movie is wacky, but they scaled it down in my opinion. Again it’s a love song to the Muppets. The scenario in the film is a plea for the Muppets to reunite and get attention again and really that’s what the movie itself is. It’s about putting the Muppets together again and trying to get an audience and hopefully inspire certain folks at Disney to make another Muppet and I can only dream of them doing the Muppet Show again.
It doesn’t top the Muppet Movie, but it’s damned close. Having not seen the other Muppet films recently I’d have to say this one has a good chance at being number two to the original film. And yes it has some flaws, but I’m willing to forgive them because it’s the Muppets. After all this time they made a movie and it was worth that wait. I can only hope that people will actually go see this, especially if you loved the Muppets growing up.